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Financial Aid (updated June 2003)
I have a disability and would like to attend college or a vocational school. Do you know of any special funding that might be available?
There is very little money designated exclusively for college students with disabilities, and scholarships specifically for students with disabilities are extremely limited. Students are urged to pursue the scholarships available for qualities other than disability.
Colleges and universities may offer specific scholarships for students with disabilities. Students should contact the Financial Aid office at each school to which they are applying to find out about such disability-related aid. However, students with disabilities can benefit from the regular financial aid system.
Financial Aid For Students with Disabilities, a publication from the HEATH Resource Center, offers comprehensive information on this topic. HEATH, which is the National Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities, provides information on educational support services, policies, procedures, adaptations, and opportunities on American campuses, vocational-technical schools, adult education programs, independent living centers, transition, and other training entities after high school for individuals with disabilities.
HEATH, The National Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities
The major source of student financial aid is still the U.S. Department of
Education. Nearly 70 percent of the student aid that is awarded each year comes from
the U.S. Department of Education programs (approximately $33 billion in 1994-95).
Student aid is also available from other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Public Health
Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The major sources of aid from the
U.S. Department of Education are:
You may apply for federal student aid from these programs at no cost by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Instructions for Completing the 1996-97 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and FAFSA Express make the paperless financial aid application a reality. FAFSA Express is software you can download and transmit electronic forms to the Department of Education. Questions on FAFSA can be addressed to FAFSA_ADMIN@ed.gov or FAFSA Express Customer Service Line at 1-(800)-801-0576.
Most federal student aid is awarded based on financial need rather than scholastic achievement. For instance, most grants are targeted to low-income students. However, you do not have to show financial need to receive federally guaranteed loans such as PLUS or unsubsidized Stafford or Direct loans.
The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) offers booklets that tell who to call to learn more student financial aid. They also offer suggestions on how to choose a college or university; receive federal grants, loans, and work-study funds; and apply to a college, and when (the deadline). The following publications are from the Department of Education.
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ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education